Extra Cavity Protection for Kids

You might think that cavities are inevitable for kids, but in truth, they’re not. A healthy diet mixed with good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) plus regular dental visits can prevent tooth decay. Dental sealants can reduce the risk even more. In fact, studies show that dental sealants can reduce decay in school children by 70%.

Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves of back teeth, where tooth decay is usually a problem for kids and teens. Sealants act as a barrier between the chewing surfaces by blocking pieces of food and germs.

Sealants work best on permanent molars, which usually erupt at age 12. It’s best to have sealants applied soon after the permanent molars erupt so that decay doesn’t have a chance to develop.

Because they’re so thin, dental sealants won’t have an effect on your child’s speech or make chewing difficult. Sealants can be clear or slightly tinted; either way, they’re virtually invisible to the naked eye.

Though they don’t take much time to apply, sealants can last 5-10 years. Dental sealants are some of the most comfortable, cost- and tooth-saving solutions around!


Are Baby Teeth Important?

Baby teeth are very important to your child’s development for several reasons. Not only do they encourage the development of the jaw bone – and reserve space required for the permanent teeth to follow – baby teeth also enable your child to chew solid food and assist in speech development. Moreover, they contribute to your child’s positive feelings about his or her appearance and help build confidence.

Therefore, it is important to begin a daily oral care routine for your child before the first tooth appears. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a warm, wet cloth or a small gauze pad to remove excess food and bacteria. As soon as the first teeth appear, brush them with a small, soft-bristled brush moistened with warm water. When teeth begin to touch each other, add daily flossing to the routine.

With adult supervision, most children are able to brush and floss their own teeth by about age four. However, we recommend assisting your child at least once a day to ensure a thorough job. You should continue to monitor your child’s oral care throughout childhood. Remember, with your own healthy oral care habits, you serve as an important role model for your child.


Seniors at Higher Risk for Dental Cavities

You may think that as an adult you don’t have to worry about cavities anymore — but dental cavities aren’t just child’s play!

As we entered the new millennium, it was discovered that seniors were actually getting more dental cavities than children. Today, children and seniors are still the two highest at-risk groups for tooth decay.

Aging puts us at greater risk for dental problems — the wearing away of tooth enamel, receding gums and loss of jawbone are signs that our mouths are aging along with our bodies.

Your grandparents could probably tell you that, in their youth, most senior citizens had missing teeth. Many lost their teeth to dental disease, and a tooth extraction was a common treatment for dental problems.

With current dental technology, we’re relying less on old-fashioned dentistry and more on modern dental procedures to restore our smiles. That’s great news to seniors, who are keeping their teeth longer. Now for the bad news — anyone with natural teeth can get dental cavities. And the longer we have our teeth, the more we expose them to the elements that can cause tooth decay.

The Risk Factors

Unfortunately, geriatric teeth are less able to handle the normal wear and tear of those in younger generations. There are several reasons why seniors may be prone to more dental cavities:

Lack of Fluoride — Most of our nation’s seniors didn’t have the benefits of community water fluoridation while growing up. And with the popularity of bottled water today, seniors may still not be getting the fluoride they need. Fluoride strengthens teeth and helps prevent tooth decay.

Arthritis — Those who suffer from arthritis, or other medical conditions, may have a hard time gripping a toothbrush or floss, making it difficult to practice daily oral hygiene.

Gum Disease — Over 95% of seniors have receding gums, exposing the roots of teeth and making them vulnerable to the same dental diseases that affect the tooth’s crown. Root decay is becoming much more common among seniors.

Dry Mouth — Dry mouth is often a side effect of medications or health problems often associated with seniors. Saliva is needed to wash away food particles and neutralize the acid that promotes tooth decay. When our mouths are dry, our teeth become more susceptible to cavities.

Diet — Aging may cause our diet to change. Seniors often lean towards softer foods, which don’t always have the nutrients you need for healthy teeth. A diet heavy in carbohydrates and sugar also contributes to dental cavities.

Assisted Living — Although assisted living centers are designed to help our loved ones get the care they need, oral hygiene may fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, a lack of individual attention may keep seniors from maintaining their smiles.

Finances — When on a fixed income, oral health care may not be a priority. Some seniors can’t afford to pay for dental products or professional dental care.

Look Grandma — No Dental Cavities!

There are several ways seniors can improve their chances of staying dental cavity-free. A diet low in sugar and high in calcium promotes tooth health. If you aren’t getting enough fluoride, try using fluoride toothpastes, mouth rinses or tablets. Drinking water, sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugarless gum promotes saliva production and reduces dry mouth.

For seniors with dexterity problems, wrap tape or an elastic bandage around the toothbrush. If a wider grip is needed, you can even try taping a tennis ball, sponge or rubber bicycle grip to the handle. An electric toothbrush may also be helpful for those who cannot maneuver a manual toothbrush easily. And daily flossing should not be forgotten, either — floss holders and waxed floss may make it easier for seniors to continue their oral hygiene routine.

Because of the special dental needs of seniors, regular dental visits are necessary to maintain their oral health. Dentists use this time to check for the dental problems that affect older patients, including gum disease, root decay and oral cancer. If a senior you know is living in a nursing home, arrange for them to receive oral care and continue with their dental appointments. If transporting them to the dental office is impossible, try finding a dentist who can arrange in-house care at their facility.

Now that you have the chance to keep your teeth for a lifetime, you should take advantage of it. Taking the right steps to maintain your smile will help you remain cavity-free, so you can truly experience what your golden years have to offer!


What is a Mouthguard?

A mouthguard is a flexible appliance that is worn in athletic and recreational activities to protect teeth from trauma. The dental profession unanimously supports the use of mouthguards in a variety of sports activities.

Why should I wear a mouthguard?

A mouthguard can prevent serious injuries such as broken teeth, jaw fractures, cerebral hemorrhage and neck injuries by helping to avoid situations where the lower jaw gets jammed into the upper jaw. Mouthguards are effective in moving soft tissue in the oral cavity away from the teeth, preventing laceration and bruising of the lips and cheeks, especially for those who wear orthodontic appliances. They may also reduce the severity and incidence of concussions.

In what sports should I wear a mouthguard?

Anytime there is a strong chance for contact with other participants or hard surfaces, it is advisable to wear a mouthguard. Players who participate in basketball, softball, football, wrestling, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, in-line skating and martial arts, as well as recreational sports such as skateboarding and bicycling, should wear mouthguards while competing.

Why don’t kids wear mouthguards?

Parents are sometimes uninformed about the level of contact and potential for serious dental injuries involved with sports in which the child participates. Some, though not all, schools reinforce the health advantage of mouthguards for their contact sports. Cost may be another consideration, although mouthguards come in a variety of price ranges.

What are the different types of mouthguards?

Stock mouthguard: The lowest cost option is a ready-made, stock item, which offers the least protection because the fit adjustment is limited. It may interfere with speech and breathing because this mouthguard requires that the jaw be closed to hold it in place. A stock mouthguard is not considered acceptable as a facial protective device.

Mouth-formed mouthguard: There are two types of mouth-formed mouthguards. The first is a shell-liner mouthguard that is made with an acrylic material that is poured into an outer shell, where it forms a lining. When placed in an athlete’s mouth, the protector’s lining material molds to the teeth and is allowed to set. Another type is a thermoplastic, or “boil-and-bite,” mouthguard. This mouthguard is softened in hot water and then placed in the mouth and shaped around the teeth by using finger, tongue and sometimes biting pressure.

Custom-made mouthguard: The best choice is a mouthguard custom-made by your dentist. It offers the best protection, fit and comfort level because it is made from a cast to fit your teeth.

How should I care for a mouthguard?

  • Clean your mouthguard by washing it with soap and cool (not hot) water.
  • Before storing, soak your mouthguard in mouthwash.
  • Keep your mouthguard in a well-ventilated, plastic storage box when not in use. Make sure the box has several holes so the mouthguard will dry.
  • Heat is bad for a mouthguard, so don’t leave it in direct sunlight or in a closed automobile.
  • Don’t bend your mouthguard when storing.
  • Don’t handle or wear someone else’s mouthguard.
  • Call your dentist if there are any problems.

Can Teenagers Get Gum Disease?

Gum disease might seem like something only adults get, but the truth is it affects people of all ages. In fact, TeenHealth.com reports that 60 percent of 15-year-olds have gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. Other studies show that teenage girls may be even more vulnerable to gum disease because of hormonal changes.
This is bad news for teenagers, who may have bad breath or sore gums as the result of gingivitis. But there’s also good news: Gum disease can easily be treated and prevented.
Treatment of gingivitis usually involves a scaling and root planing treatment (SRP) to remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line. Just one SRP treatment can reverse the signs of gingivitis and prevent gum disease from progressing.
But how do you keep gum disease from coming back? Pretty much the same way you can prevent it from developing in the first place: brush, floss, get dental cleanings AND eat healthy foods. Healthy eating is where teens often get tripped up – sweets, sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks are heavily marked to and consumed by teenagers.
You can make it easy for your teen to choose healthier options for their teeth and body by making sure the fridge is always stocked with things like fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and water.

Six Easy Ways to Prevent Dental Cavities

In dentistry, children and cavities seem to go hand in hand. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 percent of children ages 2 through 5 have at least one dental cavity, compared to 24 percent a decade ago. Although 4 percent may not seem like a lot, that increase represents thousands and thousands of children and cavities — as well as a trend in the opposite direction of the last 40 years, when tooth decay was on a gradual decline.

Eating unhealthy foods is one of the primary reasons for the rise in numbers of affected children and cavities. Healthy snacks such as fruits and nuts are often replaced with processed foods, and soda and sugary drinks have trumped water.

And unfortunately, even if your child is drinking water, it won’t do their teeth any good if it’s bottled; because unlike tap water, bottled water doesn’t contain fluoride, which is essential for the healthy development of your child’s teeth.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Visiting the dentist regularly, practicing good oral hygiene and promoting healthy eating habits are all ways to help break the connection between children and cavities.

You can also get a head start on fighting the children and cavities epidemic by taking extra special care of your child’s baby teeth. Baby teeth are adorable to look at, but they also set the stage for healthy adult teeth. If tooth decay is present in baby teeth, your child’s adult teeth can also become infected.

So if you have children and cavities are a concern, here are six easy ways to reduce the risk:

1. Avoid giving your baby juice or formula at night. The sugar in juice and formula causes the bacteria in the mouth to produce the acids that cause baby bottle tooth decay. Use fluoridated water instead.

2. Choose low-fat foods from the basic food groups. Raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole-grain breads and low-fat dairy products are great for your child’s overall health and their dental health!

3. If you must, give sweets only as a dessert. If your child must have sweets, limit it to dessert or following a main meal. Late-night snacking and frequent snacking are a major culprit of cavities in children.

4. Invest in a water filter. Most community sources of water are fluoridated — an excellent resource to help the battle between children and cavities. Instead of spending extra on bottled water, invest in a filter for your sink, or a filtered water pitcher.

5. Don’t share cups or utensils. Cavities are contagious. So if you have them, you can pass them onto your child by sharing cups and utensils.

6. If you smoke, stop. The University of Rochester’s Strong Children’s Research Center has discovered a link between smoking, children and cavities. Results from a recent study show that children of parents who smoke are more likely to develop cavities.

Learning how to brush properly is also essential in helping to stop the children and cavities epidemic. Teach your child to use short side-to-side, up-and-down strokes and to brush around his or her gum line for at least two minutes twice a day.

Finally, never skip taking your child to the dentist for regular exams and dental cleanings. While you’re at the dentist’s office, be sure to ask plenty of questions — your dentist is the best resource for learning how to protect your children from cavities!